Losail International Circuit hosted Round 1 of the 2021 Asia Talent Cup over the weekend alongside MotoGP and Japan’s Taiyo Furusato dominated the proceedings with run-away victories. Two 14-lap races held over Saturday and Sunday kicked off the season for the grid of teenagers from all over Asia and Oceania.
Furusato took both race wins by a significant margin. 13-year-old Australian Carter Thompson took a hard fought fourth in race one after battling with Mie and Danish for second earlier in the race Thompson led the next group of riders across the line. Fellow Aussie Marianos Nikolis came home in ninth and countryman Tom Drane finished 14th.
Race two saw Thompson caught in a group of riders battling for second, with less than 0.1-seconds separating second through seventh – where Thompson crossed the line. Nikolis finished tenth with Drane improving to 13th.
“I fought hard all race, and it was anyone’s over the line. Well done again to Fukasato on the win. Learning so much every time I go out, can’t wait for next weekend and another two races.”
Heading to Round 2, Furusato holds the standings lead on 50-points, well clear of second placed Hakim Danish on 32, with Gun Mie and Kanta Hamada on 31 and 30-points respectively. Australian Carter Thompson completes the top five overall, with fellow Aussie Marianos Nikolis in ninth, on 13-points. Tom Drane collected five championship points in his debut.
The first race of the season at Losail International Circuit didn’t disappoint, with a masterclass ride to the win and a classic duel to the line to decide the podium. The man out front was Taiyo Furusato as the Japanese rider turned pace in testing to blistering speed at the front.
At lights out it was Furusato who got the best start from pole, the number 15 immediately able to pull out a gap to the chasing pack. It was the opposite story alongside him on the front row, however, as Hakim Danish bogged down and got swamped around the first two corners, giving himself some work to do.
Work he did, however. As Furusato got the hammer down at the front, the Malaysian fought his way back through and avoided some drama for two fellow frontrunners as Fadillah Aditama became the first crasher… and sadly collected Rei Wakamatsu in his front end washout too. The two slid out from the chase, riders ok, passing the baton to Mie.
As the laps ticked down, Furusato only continued to impress and the squabbles that broke out behind him only played into his hands. Eventually the fight for second became a duel as Danish made his way back to the podium positions to take on Mie, and the fight for fourth became a four-way squabble to the line between Danial Sharil, Carter Thompson, Sharul Sharil and last year’s Race 1 winner Kanta Hamada. The gaps ebbed and flowed, but by the final corner it was a duel for second and a quartet battling for fourth.
As Furusato enjoyed his victory lap a stunning 16.6 seconds clear, Mie and Danish gunned it to the line side by side to decide second, just about as close as it’s possible to get fighting for position – decided by a single thousandth as Mie was that bit ahead over the line. An impressive ride for the number 5, and likewise Danish as the young Malaysian made a huge impression first time out.
Fourth was a similarly close dogfight to the flag. Australian Carter Thompson came out on top by another incredible gap of a single thousandth ahead of Sharul Sharil, with Kanta Hamada forced to settle for sixth and Danial Sharil seventh. The latter, who returns from a long road to recovery following his huge crash at Sepang in 2018, has impressed since re-joining the fold as he slots straight back into top five contention.
The battle for eighth, meanwhile, was a freight train. After crossing the line at the head of the group a few times in the last handful of laps, Thai rider Thanakorn Lakharn was able to keep a bit of a gap round the final lap to take P8, with Australian rookie Marianos Nikolis taking ninth as he got the better of Tetsuya Fujita, local hero Yousef Al-Darwish, Herlian Dandi, Masaya Hongo, Tom Drane, Thurakij Buapa and Watcharin Tubtimon in that order, the latter of whom just missed out on a point in P16. Hongo also jumped the start and served two Long Laps, but was still able to score points.
“Wow what an amazing experience, nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. I’m really happy with my debut. Learning a lot and improving every time I’m on the bike. Amazing ride by Furusato also well done to Carter and Tom Drane.”
After dominating Race 1, the Japanese rider Taiyo Furusato followed it up on Sunday with another stunner from pole, able to pull away from the off and underline his stunning pace at Losail International Circuit.
Furusato nailed the start once again, getting away from pole to take the holeshot as Danish, this time, got a pretty good get away to slot in behind. It was initially Danial Sharil who was on the chase though, the number 21 pushing to the max with a few twitches in the early stages as he tried to tag onto the back of the number 15 in the lead.
Lap by lap though, Furusato was able to pull away. The Japanese rider even had a look behind just to check he had the breathing space as he got the hammer down, adding even more to his Race 1 statement pace. The battle behind then became an almighty war for the podium as one group of four was caught by another, with an eight-rider freight train fighting it out in a constant concertina.
As Furusato started his victory lap, the battle for second put the hammer down out of the final corner and, as ever, it all came down to the drag to the line. Experience won out once again, with Hamada just taking it as Danish lost out by a couple of hundredths. For Hamada it’s a welcome return to the front after not having yet made a dent in the top five in testing or Race 1, and for Danish it backs up the promise shown by the Malaysian on Saturday as he continues to impress.
Rei Wakamatsu, after putting in the work to catch the group ahead, was forced to settle for fourth but that’s good points on the board after getting wiped out in Race 1. Gun Mie was just thousandths further back in fifth, ahead of Danial Sharil and Carter Thompson. A slightly bigger gap – tenths rather than hundredths – then opened up ahead of a duel between Sharul Sharil and Masaya Hongo, won by the Malaysian. Rookie Australian Marianos Nikolis completed the top ten.
Herlian Dandi, Tetsuya Fujita, Tom Drane, Thurakij Buapa and Watcharin Tubtimon completed the points in that order, theirs an equally well-fought fight that went down to the wire.
One name missing from the top finishers despite his pace was Fadillah Aditama, as the Indonesian had another difficult day, this time crashing out at the final corner, but rider ok. He’ll be wanting more return on his speed in Round 2, which gets underway at the same Losail International Circuit next weekend. Can Furusato keep his momentum rolling or will those on the chase close the gap?
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